First time with Joe

July 29, 2009

Photoshot_CaptureI was fresh out of USAF police and dog school training. I was 19 years old and my first tour of duty was Hahn Air Base, Germany. After arriving in Germany I was instructed to go meet my kennel commander and meet the dog that was going to be assigned to me. The military moves personnel from base to base, but dogs stay at each base and are assigned to handlers when they arrive – about every 2 to 4 years.

My Sergeant took me down the middle of the kennel runs and of course all the dogs were barking. As we walked past this one dog in particular who was really snarling, spitting, growling and biting at the fence, I thought to myself, that is one mean dog! The Sergeant stops, points to that dog and says this is your dog, his name is Joe. He said that I would have some time to get to know him and told me I should sit outside his door and talk to him. I figured It would take a few days to warm up to this dog. After about 10 minutes Joe finally stopped growling and snarling, at one point, he even rubbed his hindquarters along the fence as if wanting to be scratched. Once I touched him, he whipped around super fast and tried to bite my fingers – but instead grabbed the fence, he began pulling and bending the chain link. In my mind I thought this dog is going to kill me. I just kept talking and trying to give him treats but he wouldn’t eat them, so I just sat there. Ten minutes later my Sergeant came back, before I can tell him how crazy this dog is, he handed me a leash and collar and told me I needed to take him out right now to do some training. I thought he was kidding me. He assured me Joe would be fine once the kennel door opened. I’m 19 years old, fresh out of Basic training, Law Enforcement and dog handling school — When a higher-ranking person tells you to do something, you do it.  I opened the gate, walked inside. The sergeant was right, Joe waged his tail, I told him to sit, I put on his collar, off we went. Joe was displaying a behavior called barrier aggression. (I’ll blog about that classification of aggression another time). Joe and I spent 3 years together, and competed to become the best Military K-9 team in Europe. We were then flown to the U.S. to competed in a world-wide competition, where he finished 9 out of 13 dogs. I of course thought he did WAY better than that, but, oh well.

I have a few more stories I think you’ll enjoy. I also have some video footage of Joe and I – It’s part of my 20 minute promotional video, supposedly debuting SOON on the popular “dog blog” Dog Star Daily.

DNA Breed Identification Test

July 28, 2009

dogSince I’m around dogs and dog owners a lot, I find they are really curious about what exact breed or mix their dog is. The question is would they be willing to pay to find out? There are several DNA dog breed testing companies you can find on the Internet and a few pet stores. It’s a painless procedure, just cotton swab a little of your dog’s saliva, send it through the mail and within a few weeks you’ll get the answer.

Although knowing might help alert you to some potential health risk common in particular breeds, would there be anything you could do about it and because mix breeds don’t always suffer the same health risks as the pure breeds, would it just be  a lot of worrying for nothing? So from my perspective, the only advantage knowing is well, knowing.

If you just gotta know, DNA kits are available here DNA BREED TESTS

Age to Start Training

July 21, 2009

dogwithcapPuppies can learn from the moment they arrive home.

In the States, the number one behavioral issue I had to deal with was Housebreaking. Over here, not everyone wants the dog in the house, I have my work cut out, getting these dogs to live inside.  For dogs that live inside- housebreaking is the number one thing you should focus on. If you follow the right housebreaking formula, you will have minimal accidents in the home, however, it will still take a few weeks for a young puppy to grasp this formula and gain the muscle control needed to be 100% housebroken. The speed at which it takes, depends on many things, the breed, age of puppy, the time you can devote, what you’re expecting of them,  how large the home is, and many other factors.  With my experience, I can help you properly housebreak them faster, and with less ware and tear on the puppy.  I’ve had many clients tell me about the almost perfect results they got after just one lesson.

Before 4 months of age: We can teach a young puppy many things and without the use of correction type collars or correction training methods. We use conditioning and shaping techniques to teach them, so they can be part of our lives and not sitting in the backyard all day. Providing early education is essential for better, future control. There are some ways that dogs teach each other, that we can duplicate in a nonabrasive way. This helps your puppy learn more in a language they understand.

Between 4 and 6 month: This is the perfect time to start a consistant, condensed round of training, 2 to 3 times a day for 3 to 4 weeks. Sound like a lot?. What if I told you- it works out to just 5 minutes a day. That’s right, I’ve been teaching people, how to teach their dog using a 1-2 minute- per session, training technique. And you’ll not only be able to teach them what to do, and when to do it, but also teach them what not to do.

At this age they’re able to retain information longer, your puppy is like a sponge and very eager to learn, you’ll want to take advantage of this, because once they’re between 6 and 11 months, your listening little puppy isn’t going to be listening to you much anymore. Leash training is very important during this time, so a proper collar and leash is needed, a choke chain, head halter (type) are not appropriate with todays techniques. You’ll want to continue exposing them to different situations, dogs and people.

Between 6 months and a year: At this stage your dog is going through mental changes; training during this time will be a little more challenging. Your cute little puppy is now paying more attention to the things around them and not you. Why?. Other dogs, people, smells, sounds have more meaning to them, so they are easily distracted. More patience is needed during this time and lots of technique.

Around a year old: Your puppy is now a young adult and is somewhat out of the teenage  stage. Another round of  consistent  training is highly recommended. Sit, Stay, Down and Come should all be advanced by now. Your dog should be 100% trustworthy off leash and listen to you around many different distractions.

A year and beyond: Even though your dog may know some basic commands, this doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Think of it as a person who just learns a foreign language, if they don’t practice they will loose some of it. Dogs can learn at any age, so just keep teaching and practicing. If you’ve done all the proper socializing, your dog listens to you in all situations, they have zero behavioral issues,  you can now stray from the rules.

Use the comment form below if you have any questions.


July 18, 2009


Have you ever noticed that some dogs are just well behaved; they just seem to respond to what their owners want them to do?  You watch T.V. and see trainers doing amazing things with dogs, but when you try to do the exact same thing, you have little or no success.
As a professional trainer, I know I can make it look easy, Heck, I have 30 years of practice, It also helps that I have a clean slate with the dogs, they learn very quickly that I’m very clear and consistent of what I want or don’t want, and more important is how to get the things they want. Dogs are always asking; Did I do the right thing? Is this how I’m supposed to behave? ok, I know they don’t think in English, but if they could, this is what I believe them to be asking.
As the trainer; I think as if I’m their teacher, I answer their questions-not through dominance (anyone can do that), but through patience, technique and practice. Dogs love to learn, explore and achieve success, dogs need something to do that satisfies their innate behaviors and breed traits. You have control of those things they desire, social bonding (Attention & shelter) prey (food), prey drive ( hunting, physical and mental exercise) Play fighting for hunting or fighting (Toys and games) If you want a dog to listen and take you serious, here are some tips to help you “Think like a trainer”.

Tip #1   When teaching a dog something, your reinforcement or re-directions (corrections) needs only to be done for a second. You’re just marking a specific moment or thought in their brain, so a prolong reward or correction only ends up confusing them. It’s probably a good idea, as a dog owner, to understand how they think and learn before you can expect to have any meaningful relationship. I’m just saying…

Tip #2  Dogs need to “Learn to earn”. Dog are always being rewarded for their actions  anyway, why not reward them for listening,  instead of rewarding them for just standing there looking at you, jumping on you, getting all excited and plowing into your leg? You have something a dog wants and needs: treats, toys, praise, exercise etc. You need to teach a dog to “earn it” in order to get it. Have them use their brain to offer you behaviors that get them what they want. i.e. sit, stay, walk,fetch a ball or come on command etc.

Tip #3.  Never ask a dog to do something unless you’re going to back it up. If a dog doesn’t listen, you need to follow through, if a dog listens, you need to follow through. If you don’t follow through, a dog will start to ignore you!

Tip #4   Teach Basic Obedience commands. People don’t give this one the credit it deserves. As humans we start out learning the basics, from there we can achieve greatness. Dogs need to understand at least 5 basic commands and 3 advanced ones (shaking paws doesn’t count as one). Don’t be so impressed that your dog sits at a curb, thats really setting the bar low.  I’m also not talking about the dog in the kitchen with you holding a treat in front of their nose, luring them into position. I’m talking about control from a distance, around distractions with or without treats.  If done correctly obedience training not only teaches them what to do, but also teaches them what not to do.

Tip #5  Don’t use one word that has different meanings. If you want your dog to get off you, don’t say “Down!”, say “off!” if you want your dog to sit, don’t say “Sit Down”, say “sit!” if you want your dog to jump off of the couch, don’t say “Get Down” because they will be very confused if you then want them to “Lay Down”.  At first your dog will not learn the position that you are rewarding them for, they’re learning how they got there, so try to think of using a word or words per body movement.

If you have a bad habit of saying “down”, use  “Drop” “flat” “Lie” or “banana” for down

Tip #6   Teach a dog to ” Check in”. Dogs are not aware of the dangers in the world and for their own safety you need to teach them to “check in” or wait until you give permission to do the things they want.  Things like jumping in or out of the car, running to play with another dog, greeting someone, jumping up on the sofa or on you – all these may sound innocent but there can be dangers associated with them. To condition them to “Check in” you need to teach them a good “STAY” and more importantly, a “Release” command, “OKAY”, “FREE” or “BREAK

Tip # 7  Actions have consequences:  Dogs learn by trial and error.  When conditioning them, we can help speed things along by giving rewards for behaviors we like and using redirection techniques, or “soft corrections” for behaviors we don’t like. Using only positive consequences doesnt work, I’ve been there done that. Although it can work if you have lots of time, training talent, a border collie (or other smart dogs) or a bait bag glued to your hip, a young puppy or a dog with no bad habits.   We wouldn’t have to teach them that their actions also have negative consequences. Like when a child  does something wrong and is given a “time-out”, they to learn by trial and error. Yes, dogs are that smart. It’s not a correction using pain but mostly startling them- using touch, sound, smell, even time-outs. The goal is to mark the moment of their actions, both good and bad, so they realize their actions have consequences.

Tip # 8  Hand, body and facial cues are what your dog learns first – before learning the tone of the word or words, then finally learning the word. Only after all that, the words can be said in a different tone, then they can be said with or without any body cues. Think of a deaf person who has specific cue to correspond with a specific meaning. Use specific body gestures when teaching and using in real life examples.

I will be posting new “Think like a trainer” tips, please keep checking back. If you subscribe with just your email, you will be notified when I post something new


July 16, 2009

PetFirstAidIntroducing the pet first aid mobile application, your first stop for critically important pet information.
Your four-legged family members rely on you for their care, so be prepared 24/7 for a medical emergency. From cuts and impalement, to choking and CPR, Pet First Aid is at your fingertips with detailed articles, video, and illustrations to help you care for your dog or cat. Record your pet’s vital medical information to ensure their veterinarian is never more than a touch away, and your pet will never miss another vaccination. Pet First Aid is loaded with detailed videos and step-by-step illustrations so you’ll know exactly what to do when caring for your pet. Videos include: restraint, muzzling, CPR, bandaging, and many more. All articles, videos, and illustrations are bundled with the application for offline or wilderness access. Featuring dozens of articles, including: bleeding, poisoning, drowning, recue breathing and CPR, muzzling, restraining, disaster preparedness, bites and stings, burns, and many more. In addition, Pet First Aid allows you to save vital medical information for all your pets. Easily record their vaccinations, identifications, veterinarian contact info, medications, allergies & conditions, and any other notes for reference when visiting the veterinarian.
Learn more at
All content developed by PetTech of Vacaville, experts in Pet First Aid and Pet Emergency Preparedness training.
Software development provided by Jive Media, makers of the #1 best-selling first aid application in the Apple App Store

Treadmills for Dogs?

July 16, 2009

Some behaviorist are recommending to dog owners to exercise their dog on a treadmill, which in turn will help eliminate their behavioral issues. Its true dogs need exercise and if a dog is tired they are less likely to partake in inappropriate behavior, but the treadmill alone won’t cure a dog’s behavior issues.

Dogs are descendants from wolves. When wolves go hunting, the great advantage they have against their prey is endurance. They run their prey to exhaustion in order to catch them. Not all, but many dogs have what seems to be an endless amount of endurance. Placing a dog on a treadmill might tire them out a few times, but they will adapt as they would with other forms of exercise.

The treadmill also doesn’t offer the mental exercise that’s essential to a dog. Mental exercise  acquired by chasing their prey, or chasing and finding a ball, doing obedience or an agility obstacle course. Mental and physical exercises are in-direct ways for curing behavioral issues. You still need to apply Behavior modification techniques to directly modify a dog’s behavior. Read, Direct and In-Direct

Giving your dog an exercise outlet so they don’t take it out on your couch, or hiring a professional to obtain the knowledge needed to apply behavior modification solutions, will ultimately help cure or avoid behavioral issues from even starting. The treadmill ( DOG TREADMILL LINK) works great if there are no other exercise options available. If you already have one, you might as well train your dog how to use it, sounds like fun. Just don’t rely on it like some behaviorist would like you to think.

To find 10 other exercise options available, see my blog 10 Doggy Workouts

I found this funny video on YouTube

Top 10 Smartest Breeds

July 10, 2009

bordercollieSome of the more-trainable breeds were tested to determine which breeds might be smarter. The tests judged how quickly they learned obedience commands and how quickly they solved problems. Regardless of who’s #1 a lot of our dogs potential depends on us, the more active we are with them, the more knowledge we have, the more training we do, our dogs will become smarter.  So keep reading from blog sites like mine and your dog will be competing for a spot in the top ten. However, don’t get your hopes too high as I think the breed in the #1 spot has nothing to worry about.

10. Australian cattle dog

9.   Rottweiler

8.   Papillon

7.   Labrador

6.   Shetland Sheepdog

5.   Doberman

4.   Golden Retriever

3.   German Shepherd

2.   Poodle

1.   Border Collie


July 3, 2009

VetDogThere is no doubt dogs need our help and immunizations are important especially with puppies. Young puppies are somewhat protected by their mother’s milk. If the mother has the antibodies, they will be passed along to the puppy.

Immunizations are vaccines made up of either weakened or “killed” versions of the bacteria or virus that causes a particular disease. When these altered viruses and bacteria are injected or taken orally, the immune system mounts an attack that stimulates the body to produce antibodies. Any shot given is not a guarantee of immunity, but the stronger a immune system is the better chance to stay healthy.

There is a lot of credible research that says over vaccination can cause many serious conditions, ranging from kidney disease, immune system problems and cancer.

To combat the dangers of over immunizing, many of us are having titer test done instead of our dogs getting shots. A titer pronounced (tie-ter) are blood tests for your dog that will show if the dog is protected with  antibodies. These tests cost more than what a shot would be and can take weeks to get  results. The more people who believe over immunization can be harmful, the more vet’s will make these titer test available, costing less and with faster results. Also, you’ll find that more establishments that require seeing an immunization record will accept these titer verification tests.

If you missed part 1 just click on “more on health and fitness”  I’m sure I’ll be blogging about this subject again